Two of the biggest names in golf, Phil Mickelson and Luke Donald, both got off to a bad start in the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, California yesterday, with former world number one Donald finding himself 12 shots of the lead and Mickelson tied for 89th.

Mickelson reached the turn in three under but struggled on the back nine as he signed for a one-under 71, while Donald began on the 10th tee and followed a double bogey at the par-four 18th with further dropped shots at the first and fifth before making an overdue birdie at the eighth.

[frame_center src=”” width=”600″ height=”400″]Luke Donald’s 75 left him in a tie for 145 out of 156 competitors[/frame_center]

At a tournament that features three courses, Mickelson was playing at the La Quinta Country Club, with Donald off his best game on the PGA West Nicklaus. The other course is PGA West Palmer.

All players will play a round on each during the first three days. The cut will then be made after 54 holes with the top 70 and ties playing the final round on the Palmer course.

Mickelson said of his round: “I got off to a pretty good start, and then I just stalled. I’m excited about the year, excited about playing, and even though this is the worst score I’ve had in a long time, I’m excited about getting back out tomorrow. I can’t wait to get started again because I feel like I played a little tight today, kind of steered it a little bit.”

The 44-year-old American added on the PGA Tour website: “Hopefully the way I’m playing will show in the score, but today it just didn’t.”

The lead after Thursday’s play belonged to Michael Putnam, with the 31-year-old American shooting a nine-under 63 on the Nicklaus course.

Putnam said: “The focus for me is on the Palmer tomorrow and then La Quinta on Saturday. There’s a lot of birdies going to be made in 54 holes by a lot of guys. So I have to make a lot of birdies.”

Putnam was being closely pursued, with five players on eight under. Italian Francesco Molinari, who had eight birdies in a flawless round on the Palmer course, was joined on that mark by four Americans: Mark Wilson, Blake Adams, John Peterson and Scott Pinckney.

Dan Foley

Dan Foley

Editor and journalist at a variety of websites over the last ten years. Closing in on 10,000 hours of golf practice with no sign of mastering the game.

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